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‘Creativity plays a huge role’: How Capita is looking to differentiate in a ‘complex’ B2B world

By September 12, 2019 No Comments

‘Creativity’, ‘storytelling’ and ‘emotion’ aren’t necessarily the words that spring to mind when thinking about B2B marketing, which is all too often seen as the more rational cousin to consumer brands.

But Capita’s new CMO Antonia Wade believes they are key in helping B2B brands differentiate, and driving clients make the right decisions.

“To differentiate in the B2B market you have to be relevant, personal and memorable. That only comes through telling stories,” she explains. “Even the most analytical, functionally-minded people don’t remember in huge detail product fact sheets. But they do remember interesting anecdotes and a shared sense of purpose.”

Better explaining Capita’s purpose is one of Wade’s key jobs, difficult at a company that ranges from Army recruitment to improving 999 systems.

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She came on board in February as Capita’s first CMO with the aim of building a more robust marketing function across a business where previously marketing had been siloed into the business units.

It comes as Capita looks to transform its business under CEO Jon Lewis, who joined the company at the end of 2017 and has since outlined a strategy aimed at evolving, simplifying and strengthening the organisation.

While much of that work has so far been done internally, Capita is now refreshing its brand to ensure it is “up-to-date” and “modern”, while also looking to  “mark a milestone” in that transformation.

Telling a unified brand story

The refresh follows research conducted among clients and key influencers into what people value about Capita and where there are opportunities to improve. The key insight was that Capita needs to “invest more effort” in telling a more compelling and unified brand story, and explaining the tangible value it delivers to the private and public sector.

“There is a strong sense of purpose that permeates through everything we do. I didn’t really feel like we were telling that story boldly in the markets, and that came through pretty strongly in the research as well,” Wade tells Marketing Week.

“It happens often in B2B brands, and I come across it as a challenge as a marketer, where sales organisations will say, ‘clients know us for what they us know for, how do we extend the breadth of what they know about us?’. Marketing plays a key role in that.”

Better explaining that unified brand story will start with a new visual identity for Capita. It is redesigning its corporate logo for the first time in 13 years, changing it from all capitals to lower case and making it white on a navy blue background, a colour Wade says is “closely associated with reliability and professionalism”.

CapitaIt is also introducing a brand “mark” that aims to “visually represent us scanning the horizon for new opportunities”, while in images and text it will use a cyan bar to highlight points of focus, movement or change around how it creates better outcomes for clients.

“The idea is we look expansively and we are always challenging ourselves to think differently and do better. But when we find that point of focus or opportunity for change we are able to isolate that,” explains Wade.

To explain this new brand identity to clients and employees, Capita is partnering with TED to create an event where five speakers will talk about issues such as the future of work, learning and innovation. It will also be publishing exclusive thought leadership from the market and internal experts, and running a competition to find the next ‘TEDster’ inside Capita.

Its communications will all be brought together under the marketing platform ‘Living life in beta’ that will include a brand video. And the Capita estate, including its website, is getting a rebrand that will start in mid-October and then roll out globally.

Capita wants to see an uptick in key brand metrics, including awareness and differentiation, which will be measured on an annual basis. It will also be measuring the types of conversations it is having with clients to ensure they are becoming more strategic, as well as interactions with its content.

“Some stuff is about how people are engaging with content in the immediate term, and then over a longer period looking at how it has affected how people react and feel about our brand,” Wade says.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to tie it into growth because we are having bigger, broader conversations with the market about what we can do.”

Typically, B2B marketing has smaller budgets, more complicated products and complicated buying cycles, so I enjoy the conundrum of that.

Antonia Wade, Capita

Wade admits having those conversations with the audience can be difficult in B2B because the buying process is “complicated” and there is rarely one decision-maker, unlike in B2C.

However, she thinks that over the past 15 years, as buyers have become more informed, there is an opportunity for companies to engage more deeply and further through the buying cycle.

“The lines between B2C and B2B are becoming tighter, in terms of our clients’ expectations on how they are going to be served by content and the channel. Typically, B2B marketing has smaller budgets, more complicated products and complicated buying cycles, so I enjoy the conundrum of that.”

She also believes B2B is much more emotional than people might think, in part because of the “risk” involved in decisions, which can be “career-making or breaking”.

“It doesn’t get much more emotional than that,” she concludes. “While it might be a contained emotion in terms of the immediate dialogue, I maintain that in B2B the stakes are extremely high for both sides. It has a different type of emotion. It is less immediate and reflective but it is actually quite deep. If people are choosing to work with new suppliers or switch suppliers they are taking a risk and all risk carries a level of emotion with it.”

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